PLANS to make a local village one of the first in the Ballymoney Borough to have a vital piece of life-saving equipment on hand 24 hours a day are in the pipeline.

Currently, officials of Dervock and District Community Association are sourcing grants for a defibrillator which they feel will meet the basic needs of residents many of whom are elderly while many others are engaged in sporting activities.

Chair of the Association, Frankie Cunningham, says that because of the profile of the village and the sporting activities, a defibrillator is necessary for a variety of reasons.

“The squeeze on the National Health Service means that it is not always possible to get the type of medical response we would like and time is of vital importance when you are dealing with cases of cardiac arrest.

“By having a defibrillator we at least stand half a chance of saving a life,” he told the Times.

In a submission for grant aid, Mr. Steven Phillips, is seeking to obtain £500 to provide the 50% shortfall for a defibrillator which he says will serve not only Dervock but also the neighbouring village of Stranocum.

Mr. Phillips pointed out that there are a number of people at risk of heart attacks as well as a lot of football activity along with the annual Dervock marathon, cycle races, etc., and to have medical equipment of this nature on hand would be of huge benefit.

He has also identified a local man, John Wilmont, who has served more than 40 years with St.John Ambulance Brigade and who, a number of years ago, kept alive a churchgoer, Mr. John Ross, for 47 minutes by applying CPR before an ambulance crew arrived.

Mr. Wilmont, who received as Humanitarian award for his heroics and is a trained operator on such a piece of equipment, is more than happy to look after the equipment and be on call when possible.

The village supermarket has been identified to accommodate the defibrillator, and agreement has been reached with the owner.

Contact has been made with the British Heart Foundation, who offer part funding for automatic external defibrillators (AEDs) the local Policing Safety Partnership and the Ambulance Service so that the proper procedures are adopted.

All applications are judged on a case of need basis and Dervock Community Association feel they can meet the necessary criteria.

This is dependent on the amount of people who would benefit as well as the ease in which the ambulance can reach the location in the event of an emergency. If successful, funding is usually 50% of the cost of the unit.

Commenting on the initiative, local TUV MLA, Jim Allister, has congratulated the Dervock Association for pursuing this life-saving initiative.

He said: “I highly commend the community leaders who identified this public health need and set about ensuring that a defibrillator was provided as well as recording appreciation to the ngerous sponsors.

“This is a most worthwhile cause and in making a provision which can save lives, the local activists and sponsors have done magnificent work.”